Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Slavisa Jokanovic admitted his team lacked quality after it ended its Champions League group campaign with six defeats from six matches, scoring just one goal..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The future of Slavisa Jokanovic at Maccabi Tel Aviv remains shrouded in doubt after the coach once more evaded questions on the subject in Thursday’s scheduled pre-match press conference at Kiryat Shalom.
Maccabi faces Ironi Kiryat Shmona in Premier League action on Sunday night, looking to bounce back from Monday’s 2-1 defeat to Hapoel Beersheba, which saw the yellow-and-blue drop to second place in the standings.
Jokanovic couldn’t even confirm on Thursday that he will still be at the helm for Sunday’s match at Bloomfield Stadium, with Maccabi and Fulham of the English Championship in negotiations regarding the immediate release of the coach. Tel Aviv is believed to be demanding £250,000 for his services.
Maccabi sports director Jordi Cruyff is also determined on having a replacement signed before allowing the Serbian to leave.
“This is my job. This is not a press conference about me. This is a press conference about my team and the Israeli league and the performance of my team,” said Jokanovic when asked about his plans on Thursday.
“I prefer not to talk about the speculation.
I prefer not to make any comment about this. We are in the football business and many things can happen.
I’m here under contract and I’m here to do my job.”
Veteran Maccabi midfielder Gal Alberman said the squad would not be distracted by the speculation.
“We are professional players and we understand the importance of our upcoming matches,” he said. “This is a situation we have faced in the past and we understand that the team’s success is above all else.”
Maccabi can move back ahead of Beersheba on goal difference for at least 24 hours, with the leader hosting Hapoel Ra’anana on Monday.
On Saturday, Beitar Jerusalem visits Hapoel Haifa, Maccabi Netanya welcomes Hapoel Tel Aviv, Bnei Yehuda hosts Maccabi Petah Tikva, Hapoel Kfar Saba faces Hapoel Acre and Maccabi Haifa goes to Bnei Sakhnin, which will be guided by new coach Yossi Abuksis for the first time.
In other news, the draw for the State Cup round of 32, the stage at which Premier League clubs enter the competition, provided a mouthwatering showdown, with Maccabi Haifa being paired with Beitar Jerusalem.
The match will be held at Haifa Stadium on January 12 or 13, as will the rest of the round’s games.
Cup holder Maccabi Tel Aviv isn’t supposed to encounter too much trouble against Hapoel Ramat Hasharon of the National League, while Premier League leader Beersheba was also handed a comfortable clash against Maccabi Kiryat Gat of the second division.